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Ecua-Fabulous

La Familia

ECUADOR | Friday, 11 April 2008 | Views [604] | Comments [1]

My family came to the party - Doris, Eddy, Pauline and me

My family came to the party - Doris, Eddy, Pauline and me

    We were all waiting in the conference room of the Hotel Embassy, immediately after our session about some classically Ecuadorian cultural quarks. In addition to the warning that men would be pressured to drink a lot, and that there are many Quichaua phrases in Ecuadorian Spanish that we were bound to not understand at first, we were told repeatedly about the Ecuadorian concept of time, which, crudely, is to say that they don’t respect it the way a North American mind is accustomed to. Showing up for a meeting or a wedding or any sort obligation an hour late is not only acceptable, it should be expected.

    So when I was the last one to be picked up that night by my host family, almost an hour later than the designated time, I figured I was at least living with some legit Ecuas. I had been told that I was living with a young, childless couple, Doris at 24 years old and her husband Eddy, who is 31. So when they showed up with an unidentified young woman and two children I was again impressed by the authenticity of the experience, having been told that families in Ecuador are huge and varied and ever-present. And I could not help but somewhat immediately feel like a member of that family when the very first place we went after my pickup was not to the house, but to the grocery store, where I proceeded to play with 7-year old Naomi (one of the now-named children, although relation to the family was still unclear). We wrecked havoc on the air freshener aisle for about 25 minutes, leaving it in a disarray of pungent scents – an activity that promptly led us to smelling everything in the store. The fun and comfort I felt on that first night (and the third, when I was ip until 1:30 am participating and watching the lively living room karaoke session) was a feeling that would only increase throughout my month in Quito. Doris, with big eyes and an infectious laugh was always loving and looking to have fun. And Eddy was a mixture between a father and a brother and friend – always looking out for me, always with a smile on his face, and always being a joker of some sort. And although I never really understood where the line was drawn between friend and employee for Mari (who was the unidentified woman the night of my pickup), I did eventually realize that she had two children in addition to Naomi – her full brother Alexander and her half sister Areana, who was perhaps the cutest child I have ever encountered, and was often the light of my day. Mari would sometimes cook, sometimes do the laundry, and eventually worked in the pizzeria my family opened in the last week of my stay there. The same was true for Pauline, who lived on the first floor of the house. Again, she often did chores around the complex, but was also clearly a trusted friend, as was her son Adonis. My family was like a show, basically. Something was always going on, someone was always laughing.

    But perhaps the night I laughed the most was the night of the pizza espionage, one of my favorite memories from Ecuador so far. About two weeks into my stay, before I had any indication a pizzeria was in the mix, I came home from class late, around 9:30 at night. As I was approaching the door of our house, Doris was leaving with Areana. In the broken Spanish I thought I understood, I got the impression she was just walking the little 2-year old back to her mother’s house. I threw down my backpack and told her I would accompany her – which seemed like a ridiculous thing to do once I realized Mari’s house was all of 30 seconds away. But when Mari came out of the house, instead of us going in, and we walked down the stairs to the bus station, as opposed to up them towards the house, I really wondered what I had gotten myself into. Mari was talking to me on the bus about her boyfriend, and the father of Areana. I understood that he lived in Spain, that she has not seen him for a long time, that they talk everyday, and something about one month. When this conversation seemed to have gone by the wayside (as they often do with someone who is barely capable of understanding, let alone responding to, what is being said), I finally asked Doris where we were going. “To eat” was the only response I got. So two buses and a cab ride later we end up at a hole in the wall pizza place, where Eddy was mysteriously in his car outside waiting for us. Confused as ever (pizza is widely available anywhere in Quito), I suddenly had the sinking feeling we were here to meet with Mari’s boyfriend, and that I had totally inappropriately invited myself along. This feeling was only enhanced by the fact that Doris and Eddy and Mari were all whispering at the table, not making loud conversation like they usually do, and barely even looking at me. So I absorbed myself in Areana, hoping I had not just made some huge cultural faux pax, until we were actually kicked out of the place because it was closing. Relieved that the mystery boyfriend had not showed up and that it was time to go home, I was aghast when, about three blocks away from the restaurant, Eddy flipped a U-turn on the street in front of the pizzeria and parked his car. I was even more perplexed when Eddy, at 11:00 at night, got out of the driver’s seat, and began to wax his car while we all sat contentedly in the dark. After about 10 minutes of waxing, Eddy got back into the car. I think my confusion was visible, because at this point he looked at me, laughed and finally explained that he and Doris were opening a pizzeria in a couple weeks and this place had a maestro of pizza working as the chef. We were waiting in the car, and Eddy was waxing as a signal to the security guard of where he was parked, in order to steal the chef from this place and hire them at the new pizzeria. Stealth business in Ecuador for sure. But once I understood what the hell was going on, I got really into it – all of us peering at the pizzeria in the distance, anxiously awaiting the chef’s departure and strategizing about how best to encounter him.

    In the end, he was too expensive and some random aunt taught Doris to cook pizza. But that night stands out to me as one of the most hilarious and memorable.

Comments

1

Gordon and I think we make great pizza. I'd love to taste Doris and Eddy's. All my love and envy

  Aunt Sally Apr 20, 2008 2:46 PM

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